The present volume attempts to narrate the events of the Indian Renaissance, the advancement of learning and the-reawakening of our own heritage during the years 1765-1947,ie. From the grant of Diwani to the East India Company till India Independence.
An Attempt has also been made in this volume to relate to the past through Indological studies of the excavations of monuments, as well as epigraphically, paleographical and numismatic material.
Historiographical studies have also been included. The influence of Indian culture on foreign countries has also been discussed. Study of Indian Culture abroad, influence of the West on our society and how the Eastern peoples viewed India have also been dealt with. Great men of that time, e.g. Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranatha Tagore, Mahatma Gandi, sister Nivedita and others, showed the right way to proceed-their ideas an impact on Indian society have been treated in detail.
The Purpose of this volume is to make its readers acquainted with the broad features and phases of development that characterize the history of this period. A perusal of the 67 articles by 61 eminent scholars in this volume enables one to know about the epoch-making changes that happened in India in the modern period.
The cultural Heritage of India is a series dedicated to the history ad culture of India and is administered by the Ramakrishan Mission Institute of culture. The Institute was founded in 1938 to follow up Sri Ramakrishna’s (1836-86) Birth Centenary celebrations. The Cultural Heritage of India was first published in 1937 as /Sri Ramakrishan Mission Institute o Culture was vested with the responsibility of bringing out the second edition of the work. In meeting the demand for broadening its span,, preparations were made to bring out an enlarged revised edition of the work. The revised edition of the third volume (‘The Philosophies’) was published in 1953, the first volume (‘The Early Phases: Pre-Historic, Vedic, Upanisadic, Jaina and Buddhist’) in 1958, and the second volume (‘Itihasa, Puranas, Dharma and Other Sastras’) in 1962. A fourth volume dealing with ‘The Religions; was added in 1956. Enlarging the scope of the series the Institute made plans in 1962-63 for a fifth volume on ‘Science, Literature and Arts’ and a sixth volume on ‘Literature and Science’ and also for a seventh volume of on ‘The Modern Renaissance Period’. In 1972 the Institute decided to split the fifth volume into two parts, one on ‘Languages and Literatures’ and another on’ Sciences and Technology’. These were published as the fifth and sixth volumes in 1978 and 1986 respectively. At the same time it was also decided to further extend the scope of these rises by publishing a total of eight volumes. The seventh volume was devoted to ‘The Arts’. The first part of this volume covering architecture, sculpture, epigraphy and numismatic s and also Indian art and the East was published in 2006. Its second part dealing with painting, music, dance and theatre as well as rural and applied arts and crafts is expected to be published soon. The present volume is the eighth one in the series and has been renamed ‘The Making of Modern India (1765-1947)’ in place of the earlier name of ‘The Modern Renaissance Period’.
The work for the present volume was begun more than four decades ago. /a sub-comitttee was formed in 1964, consisting of (1) Dr. R. C. Majumdar, (2) Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, (3) Dr. Nihar Ranjan Ray, (4) Dr. Asim Datta, (5) Dr. Gouri Nath Sastri, (6) Dr. Bhabatosh Datta and (7) Shri Bireswar Mazumdar. The progress of the work under the direction of the eminent historian Dr. R. C. Majumdar was halted with his demise. Over the years that followed other scholars like Dr. Pratima Bowes gave their time and energy but the work could not be finished. In 2000 Dr. Tapan Raychaudhuri was requested to join this project as adviser and an editorial board was formed, consisting of Dr. Nemai Sadhan Bose, Dr. Amitabha Mukherjee and Dr. Uma Das Gupta. After the sad demise of Dr. Amitabh Mukherjee in July, 2002 Dr. Sukumar Bhattacharyya was appointed one of the editions. Unfortunately Dr. Neami Sadhan Bose passed away in July, 2004.
It is important to note that the majority of the articles in the present volume were assigned and written during the initial period. As those contributions to the volume were seminal, the present editorial committee which finalized the eighth volume decided to honors those contributions and includes them in this volume. However, wherever possible, those articles written during the initial period of this volume’s histour have been updated or supplemented to incorporate recent historiography and researches on the subject. As for instance, Dr. R. C. Majumdar’s article entitled ‘Historiography in Modern India; has been supplemted by a n article written b Dr Gautam Bhadra and Dr. Mirmal Kumar Bose’s article on ‘Tribal India: Impact of the Oder Age’ b the one written by Dr. Ranjit Kumar Bhattacharya significantly based on recent anthropological researches in the field. In addition more articles have been invited in new and relevant areas of study by the later editorial committee. To name a few, these are: ‘Economic Transformation of India’, ‘Growing Urbanization in Modern India ‘, ‘New Trends in Indian Literature’, ‘Indian Cinema: A Historical Overview’, ‘Growth of News papers and Journal : Their impact on India Public Opinion’, ‘the Imperial Medium: Radio Broadcasting in India (1927-1947)’, ‘Western Response to Indian Thought ‘, ‘Tagore’s Impact on Modern India’, and ‘Gandhiji’s Impact on Modern Indian’.
The volume comprises sixty-seven articles. In the ‘Introduction’ (The Mind of modern India) Dr Rajat Kanta Ray has well observed “‘Indian cultural heritage was a complex and synthetic one –a many-stranded tradition capable of adaptation to new situations. Western thought and Indian tradition were both complex entities, and a selection of mutually supportive elements from both formed the basis of the Renaissance in India.
This critical acceptance and synthesis was able to sustain identity in change.’ The present volume has been organized in eight parts to cover the social, political, religious and cultural developments of the modern period.
Part I of the volume covers as the aspects of modern Indian history as the introduction of English education and educational developments, the position of women. Social reform movements, Indian literature, developments in science and technology, fine arts and the media. Pat II of this volume throws light on legal system administrative and constitutional developments, the growth of political consciousness and nationalist movement, economic ideas and developments, rural reconstruction, philosophical thoughts.
Although the articles, broadly speaking, relate to the period from the late 18th century (1765) up to India independence (1947), an attempt has been made in Part IV to link up with the ancient period of India history by looking at the Indological contributions, excavations of ancient monuments, Indian epigraphy, paleography and numismatics. This part of the volume also covers historiographical studies in modern India.
Part V of the volume deals with Indian culture abroad and Part VI with India and the West. Part VII of the volume has been dedicated to the Ramakrishan-Vivekananda movement. Part VIII deals with the impact of Rabindranath and Gandhiji on Modern India.
The volume ends with the ‘Epilogue; (In Quest of Indian Modernity) written by Dr, Tapan Raychaudhuri, which is a summing up of some key issues on the subject. The Appendix contains two of the earlier articles, namely, Dr. Bisheshwar Prasad’s ‘Progress of Modern India during 1765-1947’ and Dr. R.C. Majumdar’s ‘India at the beginning of the 19th century’. The article of Bisheshwar Prasad was originally taken as “Introduction’. But in the changing situation it was not possible to put it in the final schema. It happened with R.C. Majumdar’s article also. These two authors were great scholars in their respective spheres. So our editorial board decided that these two articles would go as “Appendix’.
We convey our deep gratitude to the scholars whose learned contributions have enabled us to bring out the present volume. Without their ungrudging co-operation it would not have been possible for us to perform this intellectual exercise. We are also deeply ideated to the successive secretaries of the Institute, Swami Nityaswarupanda,Swami Ranganathanada, Swami Akunthanada, Swami Lokesaranada, Swami Prabhanad and Swami Saarvabhutananda for their sustained and gracious effort and guidance in the making of the volume. It is our duty to note that Swami Sarvabhutanda greatly helped us in steering the work for the volume also in the period before he became the Secretary of the Institute in April, 2007. We have also been generously helped by Swami Swagatanda da, Swami Ritananda and Swami Prasannatmananada in preparingthis volume. We offer our heartfelt thanks to Sri Pradyut Kumar Ganguli of the Publication Department of the Institute for his vital role in giving a shape of the entire work. Our thanks are also due to other staff members of the Publication department, the Library and the Research Wing. The project assistants, Dr. Prajit Kumar Palit, s. Ilanjana Basu, Ms. Arumima Ghosh (Roy Chudhury) and Dr. Deballina Roy also deserve our thanks for their help in preparing the volume for publication. Lastly, we would like to offer our earnest gratitude to Swami Mahabodhanada (Ratnam Maharaj) and Brahmachari Shakarachaitanya (Sandeep Maharaj) for preparing the Index.
We hope and believe that the publication will be duly appreciated as a significant study of the making of modern India in the colonial era representing a vital phase of the history and culture of India.
The Mind Of Modern India
The unique soul of a Bengali poetess of the early 20th century discovered a kinship with the restless ocean:
O thou ever changing,
O restless, O ever distraught,
Stretching out a hundred arms,
Dashing and breaking,
What seekest thou, unsatisfied?
What wealth hast thou lost
That thou dost search after,
while thy untranquil breast
Rises and falls,
Breaks asunder and gather together?
Indian culture was then in the process of reshaping itself out of the cirisis of identity that was felt, intellectually and orally, when the impact of the West had disturbed her centuries old apathy and unconcern. The ocean’s untranquil quest symbolized her restless journey towards self-realization and self-expression. The disturbed state of the nation’s mind was reflected in NIrupama Devi’s address to the ocean.
Out of this restless state there emerged, falteringly but unmistakably, a renewed faith in life. It was a new point of view in many respects, being partly a response to the impact of Western culture. But while it reached out to a wide world, its links with the past did not snap. The modern Indian Renaissance was a movement in a fresh direction, but that did not involve a total break with Indian identify, as rooted in her age-old tradition. In this essay we shall look at some of the Western ideas that made their impact felt through educational and cultural influences, as well as at some of the traditional Indian beliefs with which these new ideas were made to adjust themselves. Finally we shall explore the fundamental view of life that emerged from the moral nonintellectual interaction that was involved in this process.
The first point note is the continuing importance of religion and philosophy as vital ingredients in the modern Indian Renaissance. Indeed, there is as much reason for regarding it as a reformation as there is for treating as a renaissance. The ‘other-worldly’ nature of Indian civilization has been much commented upon. In so far as this meant that abstract thought had a religious and philosophical bias, this continued to be true of the Indian Renaissance. Modern Indian culture showed a preoccupation with the beyond that reflected it s connection with the older tradition. This spiritual quality was both speculative and devotional. But, as we shall it now incorporated within itself an involvement with the living world, the religious tradition was reformed and re-shaped to meet the needs of a modern environment.
Preoccupation with the mystery of existence was an ingrained characteristic of the Indian psyche and speculative tendency had appeared vey early on the science, from the time of the Upanisads. In the modern age it found highly abstract expression in the poetry of two philosophical poets, Rabindranath Tagore and Mohammed Iqbal. In Tagore’s poetry, the influence of the Upanisads is easily discernible:
The first day’s Sun
At the new manifestation of being-
Who are you,
NO answer came.
Year after year went by,
the last sun of the day
the last question utters
on the western sea-shore,
in the silent evening-
He gets no answer.
The speculative tendency fostered in turn a sense of estrangement. In Iqbal, but not in Tagore, this was marked. ‘Separationis the destiny of all existence,’ Iqbal declared in Bal e Jibreel. In a shorter poem he expressed the thought in all its pan and mystery.
Happed to close in, face, and –facing-
One to the other he from an infelt
Urge said, prayed:
Life, God, would be
Should we forever together be
-to journey stay!
Should only the Hea’ens one whit relent
And let us shine, and die,
As one-to play or pray!’
But hardly had he done, the call
It came for the twain to part-
Depart: ‘to ‘vole
Is the planets’ fixed lot,
A destined chart-
For ear one his, her course
(just one) fore-lined.
May you of unison, marriage,
Dream and dream-
Your course a diverge ever is
Won’t won’t it gleam
In to converge.
That’s Nature’s law supreme’.
A corollary to this feeling of estrangement was brooding over the transience of all earthly forms, of life itself. The old Sanskrit adage-raised echoes in modern Indian poetry. Sometimes this would take the form of poetic expression of pain felt at the passing of beauty. Kumaran Asan, in Fallen Bloom (a Malayalam poem written in 1909), struck a new subjective and romantic mote expressing the transience of all things.
Turn away your eyes! This fallen bloom
Will wither, become one with the dust, forgotten.
This is the lot destined for all. Of what avail
Are tears. In real like dream is life on earth.
The note is new, but the thought is old-one which faintly re-echoes Sankara’s exhortation (Do not boast of your money, men and youth, for Time takes it all away). Yet the subtle transformation of the thought should also be noted. Beauty is no longer rejected, even when t is thought to be noted. Beauty is no longer rejected, even when it is thought to be transient. The mood is one of pain, not of renunciation.
There was a this-worldly aspect of India’s modern Renaissance, just as there had been such a side-often overlooked –to her Great Tradition. If advaita had stressed the illusory nature of all phenomena, bhakti had glorified the love of the ultimate in all its earthly forms. During the modern transformation of the moral universe of India’s thinkers and poets, the balance shifted decisively from the ‘other world’ to ‘this world’. As an expression of occasional poetic despondency, such a thought as ‘Unreal like dream is life on earth’ was to be expected from time to time. But that was not the substantive and fundamental belief of modern India’s thinkers and poets. Tagore posed a conscious challenge to Sankara’s notion of the illusory nature of all universe:
Let any who will, ponder with eyelids closed,
Whether the Universe be real, or after all an Illusion:
I meanwhile sit and gaze with insatiate eyes.
On the Universe shining with the light of Reality.
Here was an explicit challenge to the doctrine of May-the philosophical basis of what has been called the ‘other-worldly’ civilization of India. This brings us to the second point of this essay- the new thrust of moral and intellectual enquiry towards the problems of this world under the impact of Western civilization. It is true that India’s Grate Traditon had not uniformly and consistently denied the reality of this world. There had always been at its root a tension between advaita and dvaita, between the hard, logical approach of this path of knowledge and the devotional bhakti cults of the medieval age, between the doctrine of illusion and the doctrine of God’s manifestation in all things that exist. Even in bhakti, however, this world was a subordinate element in an entire cosmic scheme in which the visible and the invisible were closely interlinked as the form and the essence of ultimate reality. It was a sign of the time, the spirit of the modern age, that ‘this world’ became a dominant element in the moral universe of the 19th century India seers, intellectuals and reformers. The uncompromising dvaita of Dayanand Saraswati was a sign of the attempt modernization of the Hindu view of the cosmos.
The thrust of intellectual enquiry towards the problems of earthly existence derived impetus from the absorption of certain Western notions by modern Indian culture. Rabindranah Tagore, in his celebrated essay Kalantar or ‘The Changing Age’, emphasized two main changes in the realm of ideas that resulted from the Western impact on India. One was reason and the other justice.
Logical reasoning had been an integrals part of both Vedic and Islamic philosophy. But reason, as imported from the West, was something wider than logic. Its tendency was to push the frontiers of knowledge to ever wider horizons. Educated Indians came t appreciate that Europe had conquered the world of knowledge because of the ‘purity of its strenuous exercise of reason. Europe infected India with the curiosity to discover the inner working of all phenomena by observation and experiment. Reason was henceforth to be not merely deductive and philosophical, but empirical and scientific as well. This had certain social implications of a far-reaching character. Reason was to guiding standard by which to judge all social institutions. Where an arrangement did not conform to its dictates, it had to be modified since the light of reason was taken to show the way to progress. Improvement became the spirit of the new age; and improvement meant action-action to remove obstacles to progress, to test everything by the standard of utility, to reform all abuses that offended man’s capacity to think . Reason was allied to progress; and progress implied an activist philosophy of life. Tagore set forth the new ideal of reason I a famous poem of the Gitanjali:
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow
Where words come from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
Dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action-
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. Reason was to bring freedom form superstition and dead habit. It was thus oriented towards protest against all unjust arrangements that impeded the free development of man’s potential. This brings us to the notion of justice-the second major notion emphasized by Tagore as a new characteristic of modern Indian culture.
The notion of justice presupposed the awakening of man’s conscience. The individual with his conscience emerged, under the impact of Christianity on India, as the irreducible unit of the moral universe. The proud proclamation of the individual’s conscience-‘Here I stand’- was an exhortation to defiance against the arrogance of power and the perpetration of injustice. Man owed it to himself and to God-to the little inner voice which Gandhi consulted plunging into action and which inspire Tagore’s public pronouncements- not to bend before arrogant power.
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